Australia/Israel Review

Noted and Quoted – May 2018

May 9, 2018 | 

Noted and Quoted - May 2018
Scott Burchill

Scott Free

ABC radio host Ali Moore’s interview with regular guest Scott Burchill was an embarrassing display of intellectual fecklessness on her part and typical anti-Western, anti-Israel claptrap by him.

Burchill attacked PM Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for not condemning Israel over the Gaza protests, saying, “if there’d been a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian militia and 17 Israeli Jews were killed and 1000 people were injured, do you imagine that [they] would’ve remained completely silent?”

This is a false comparison and Moore should have challenged him on it. Israel was responding to violence, including attempts to breach the Gaza-Israel border, planting of IEDs and throwing of Molotov cocktails.

But then Burchill seemingly doesn’t believe Israel has the right to confront violence because “there were all sorts of activities going on within Gaza itself; these were not activities taking place over the so-called border, which of course still hasn’t been finalised. So all the massacres occurred on one side.”

There were no “massacres”. Those killed were young men of fighting age and the majority were identified as belonging to terrorist groups. Further, Israel’s withdrawal from there in 2005 is a definitive statement on where it considers sovereign Israeli territory is, and no one really questions the Gaza border except those who insist Israel has no right to exist in any borders.

Burchill sought legitimacy for his claims of a massacre by citing far-left Israeli journalist Gideon Levy as his source.

Moore appeared to agree it was a massacre and should have attracted condemnation by Australia, saying, “it’s extraordinary isn’t it,” ABC Radio Melbourne 774 “Conversation Hour” (April 3).


New Sharif in Town?

SBS Radio “Arabic 24” should arguably reconsider using Sharif al-Nairab as its Gaza correspondent after his April 2 cross on “Good Morning Australia” apparently breached the broadcaster’s statutory requirement to be accurate, impartial and balanced.

Al-Nairab described the protests in Gaza as “a peaceful march,” overlooking Palestinian rioters trying to cut the border fence, throw burning objects and Molotov cocktails at the soldiers and plant explosive devices.

He quoted as fact Hamas’ claims that 1,300 people were injured by Israeli fire and did not report Israeli claims of a much lower figure, only a few dozen, with the rest of the injuries from riot dispersal measures.

Al-Nairab said, “Israeli officials today… spoke officially… that they are shamed from the Israeli Border Police and killing civilians.”

No such statement was issued by any Israeli official – Al-Nairab may have been quoting a prominent journalist, who later withdrew his statement.

One of the Palestinians killed in the riots, Abd Al-Fateh Al-Nabi, was called a “martyr” by al-Nairab, but according to Israeli sources, he belonged to Hamas’ military wing.


Unhealthy source

Too many media stories on the Gaza riots were regurgitations of Hamas propaganda courtesy of Gaza’s health officials.

On April 8, the Sunday Age and Sydney’s Sun Herald ran an AP report highly sympathetic to the Palestinian narrative, saying that “Israel has alleged that Hamas is using the mass marches as a cover for attacking the border fence.” But it accepted as fact that the blockade “enforced by Israel and Egypt since 2007…has made it increasingly difficult for Hamas to govern. It has also devastated Gaza’s economy, making it virtually impossible for people to enter and exit…and left residents with just a few hours of electricity a day.”

It is Hamas’ refusal to make peace with Israel, its harbouring of anti-Egyptian Islamist terror groups, its misappropriation of aid for terror tunnels and missiles/rocket production, its refusal to pay for oil and gas to run power plants or for imported electricity and its placing of Gaza’s economy on a war footing that has resulted in the civilian population there suffering.


The profit motive

The West Australian (April 7) exposed the cynical nature of the protests, reporting how Hamas is paying compensation of up to US$3,000 for those killed or injured in the protests “raising concerns that young Palestinians with little to lose will be pushed to risk Israeli fire.”

Elsewhere, AIJAC’s Sharyn Mittelman detailed the extensive rewards system on offer by the Palestinian Authority (PA) for acts of terror.

“The worse the crime you commit, the more money you receive. The PA recently announced that its budget for 2018 will include US$403 million for such payments. The United States Congress has now decided to act against this nefarious scheme. The Taylor Force Act, officially passed on March 23, requires that the US halt its funding to the PA if the latter refuses to end its ‘martyr’ compensation program.” Mittelman also called on Australia to review its funding to the PA in the wake of the US changes. Daily Telegraph (April 2).


Full Activist

Fairfax Middle East correspondent Farid Farid went full pro-Palestinian activist in a 1,200-word feature promoting the riots in Gaza and 17-year-old Palestinian West Bank activist Ahed Tamimi – recently sentenced to eight months jail for incitement and violent acts against soldiers.

Farid suggested Tamimi was cajoled into confessing, citing video footage of her interrogation by Israeli police.

Israeli police released the video to her lawyers but Farid omitted this, attributing its distribution to Tamimi’s father Bassem, who was described simply as an “activist” denied entry to Australia last year.

Bassem supports a one-state solution – Israel’s replacement with a majority Arab state. He is also a purveyor of grotesque antisemitic conspiracies, including tweeting claims that Israel kills Palestinians to harvest their organs. Why then does he encourage his daughter to confront them if it’s so risky?

Ahed herself speaks in veiled terms about her vision of peace. In September 2017, she told the European Parliament that “the world must recognise the Palestinian cause. The occupation is not only the theft of land. We oppose racism, Zionism, the entire system of occupation and not only the settlements.” This is basically code for Israel’s destruction.

The piece also falsely said that the protests are leading up to the 70th anniversary of Israel’s creation on May 15 which “signals a mournful day on which [the Palestinians] lost statehood.”

The Palestinians of course never had statehood to lose, while their opportunity for statehood was lost by choice. Palestinian Arab leaders refused to accept the UN partition plan to create separate Jewish and Arab states. Instead, in collusion with neighbouring Arab states, they launched a war which they lost and then failed to create a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank.

Hamas was mentioned only once in the piece, Sunday Age/Sun Herald (April 15).

A line in the sand

Offering context that was missing in too many media reports unable or unwilling to understand the subtext of the bloody visuals of the Gaza protests, AIJAC’s Colin Rubenstein said the majority of “those killed” had been “positively identified as members of the Hamas military forces [or] other terrorist groups” and he also noted that almost all had been “males of fighting age.”

The motivations attributed by the media to the protests, he said, were false.”The demonstrations were not about Israel’s occupation or the West Bank settlements. Israel fully evacuated Gaza in 2005 and settlements haven’t prevented it offering a Palestinian state on generous terms in 2000, 2001 and 2008, offers that the PA summarily rejected. It also was not about Israel jailing Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi after she repeatedly assaulted and threw stones at soldiers and incited terrorism. As Hamas leaders made clear, they are fighting against Israel’s existence. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh stated that the demonstration marked the beginning of the Palestinian ‘return to Palestine, all of Palestine. No concessions and no recognition of the Zionist entity (Israel)’,” Rubenstein wrote.

Moreover, he pointed out that the economic privations in Gaza could be alleviated if Hamas would allow it, noting “an extraordinary March 15 donor conference at the White House, remarkable because, alongside Egypt and Jordan, several Arab nations – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman – with no diplomatic relations with Israel comfortably sat around the table with the Jewish state and signalled a readiness to work together with Israel to help Gaza,” Australian (April 5).


Caroline calls it

Caroline Marcus blasted Turkish President Recep Erdogan as hypocritical for accusing Israel of being a “terrorist state” when he “butcher[ed] 165 civilians in Afrin, Syria” recently. Marcus also delved into the backgrounds of some of the protesters killed in Gaza, such as “a commander in Hamas’ military wing Jihad Farina and another militant whose job was to dig terror tunnels into Israel, Muhammad Abu ‘Amru. Hamas tried to pass off the latter as an innocent artist who simply liked to sculpt in the sand, until the Israelis produced evidence of his far more lethal sculpting.”

“Of course it’s nothing short of a tragedy that innocents may have been caught up in Friday’s crossfire, but the use of human shields is a classic Hamas strategy,” she added, Daily Telegraph (April 3).


Insights on incitement

The Australian editorialised (April 4) that Hamas’ “role in inciting 30,000 Palestinian civilians… must not be overlooked by those demanding an urgent international inquiry.”

It correctly noted why the protests were organised, explaining that “Israel’s updated Iron Dome missile defence system has now neutered Hamas’s principal terrorist attack strategy – wildly firing rockets and mortars at Israeli towns. So, too, has new technology that means Hamas’s tunnels into Israel are quickly detected. Instead, Hamas, as it seeks to retain power in Gaza amid internecine conflict with the Palestinian Authority, has mobilised civilians in their tens of thousands to launch themselves against the border and ‘reclaim Palestine’. It was apparent from the first protests that clearly identified Hamas terrorists were at the forefront. Reports speak of known Hamas militants rushing the fence, throwing Molotov cocktails, detonating explosives and firing guns.”


Bagging Pipes

Veteran Palestinian activist Bassam Dally attacked recent AIJAC guest Daniel Pipes for his op-ed outlining a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Pipes’ article in the Australian (March 24) accused the Palestinian leadership of having a long-term goal of eliminating Israel “explicit in the case of Hamas, implicit in that of the PA.”

Israel, he said, needs to absorb the lesson of “history [which] shows wars typically conclude not through negotiations but through defeat and victory… it means developing consistent policies to break rejectionism and encourage Palestinian acceptance of Israel. It implies a strategy to crush irredentist Palestinian ambitions to finally end the demonising of Jews and Israel, recognise historic Jewish ties to Jerusalem, normalise relations with Israelis, close the suicide factories and shutter the entire machinery of warfare… Unfortunately, there is no shortcut.”

Dally’s published response in the Australian (March 31) tried to avoid the issue of the Palestinian leadership’s ongoing rejection of peace offers – the real reason Israel’s military occupation remains.

He accused Israel of “imprison[ing] on average more than 270 Palestinian children every year, 20 percent of whom are younger than 15” and suggesting “the 99 percent conviction rate handed down in the military court” is abnormal.

As AIR noted in March, every country detains youth, including Australia. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 964 juveniles aged 10 to 17 were in detention on an average night in the 2017 June quarter. NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research data shows that from 2012-16 the average conviction rate for all offences was 89% and as high as 94% for illicit drugs. In Japan, the criminal justice system has a conviction rate that exceeds 99%.

Dally also erroneously claimed Israel’s “settlement construction has increased by 17 percent since the election of US President Donald Trump.” In fact, as the Jerusalem Post reported in March 2018, since Trump’s inauguration, settlement construction has declined by 47%.

The article was crammed with many other dubious assertions, too numerous to debunk here.


Barns Door Opens

Veteran Israel-basher Greg Barns really threw all restraint to the wind in his latest anti-Israel screed over the Gaza riots.

He said Israel is “a deeply flawed society, led by a thug in Benjamin Netanyahu. Palestinians are second-class citizens because the reality is Israel is an apartheid state. Last year in a report prepared for a UN agency, two of the world’s leading scholars on Israel and humans [sic] rights, Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley concluded that Israel practises apartheid against Palestinians.”

Under apartheid, black South Africans never had the vote, were restricted in academic and employment opportunities and where they could live. None of this applies to Israeli Arab citizens who have full enfranchisement.

Meanwhile, Falk is a noted conspiracy theorist who suggested the US government was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and has repeatedly been condemned by both Western governments and the UN for his promotion of antisemitism. Falk’s “report” was commissioned by a UN body comprised entirely of Arab nations and the Palestinian Authority (PA) which set out in advance to write a report saying Israel is an apartheid state, so it appointed authors it knew would do so. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ spokesperson rejected the report, saying it “does not reflect the views of the Secretary General.”

The report declares Israel guilty of apartheid because Israel defines itself as a “Jewish state” – which is ironic because 16 of the 18 member entities who commissioned the report define themselves in their constitutions as “Islamic,” or “Arab” or both.

Barns also minimised the extremism behind the protests, saying the participants were merely demonstrating against “the expropriation of their lands by Israel.” What lands? Israel withdrew completely from Gaza in 2005 and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency estimates that the total number of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war who are still alive is 30,000, Mercury (April 16).


Fake news, crazy views

Pro-Palestinian activist Noura Erakat’s appearance on ABC Radio National “Late Night Live” (April 3) was 15 minutes of pure anti-Israel slander, with no push-back from host Phillip Adams.

According to Erakat, the 1948 war following Israel’s creation was not, as history records, a Jewish fight for survival but “the pretext” for “80 percent of the native population” to be “forcibly removed”.

Erakat said Israel keeps Gazans on a “starvation” diet and called the blockade a “land siege”. The accepted definition of a siege is cutting off food, water, power and medical supplies to a territory to force your enemy to surrender control. Israel does none of these things.

US President Trump was falsely accused of “explicitly [saying] there will be no Palestinian capital [in Jerusalem]” and “there will be no state” when he said neither. She also said a state was “torpedoed by Israel” in “2001 and since the eruption of the second Palestinian intifada.”


Bray for the Palestinians

Interviewed on ABC Radio National “Religion and Ethics” ( March 21) New Zealand-born Bethlehem University vice-chancellor Dr Peter Bray placed the blame on anyone but the Palestinians for their plight.

Why did the proportion of Palestinians who are Christian drop from 20 percent thirty years ago to just two percent today? According to Bray the decline started under the Ottoman Empire and has continued under the Israeli occupation. The reality is that the numbers dropped precipitously after the Palestinian Authority was created in the early 1990s. Bray also slammed the effect of the security fence on access to Jerusalem for Palestinians in the West Bank but failed to mention it was a consequence of the terrorism of the Second Intifada.

Ridiculously, Bray said, “the way Israel is systematically driving Palestinians out [of Jerusalem], there is not going to be any Palestinians there.” There are more Palestinians in Jerusalem in both real terms and as a percentage than at any time since 1948.

Bray dismissed Israeli peace offers made in 2000 and 2008. Of course, these offers included the equivalent of 100 percent of the West Bank (including Bethlehem), and a share of Jerusalem, so what is Bray asking for?

“In ’46, before the division by the United Nations, Palestinians had 90 percent of the land. Now they’ve got about 8.7 percent. I can’t see how you can say the Palestinians should be giving more,” he said.

Arabs owned 22% of Mandatory Palestine in 1946 and if they made peace, the Palestinians would clearly have more than his “8.7 percent” figure.



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